Instagram Stories: Branding Basics & Reach-Expanding Hacks

Image by Jakob Owens - Unsplash

By Charlotte, 4 months ago (5 min read)

Following their launch in 2016, it’s now no secret that Instagram stories are something of a big deal, with over 500 million Instagrammers posting their stories on the ‘gram daily. This functionality allows Instagram users to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours, making them an efficient tool to communicate brand identity effectively and boost engagement.

While Instagram stories were primarily predicted as an unsuccessful spin on Snapchat’s stories feature, they’re now considered one of the most effective ways to make your business stand out when created with the right branding strategies in mind. So, how do you use stories to boost brand awareness and maximise your organic reach? We’ve got you covered.

Instagram stories explained

Instagram stories allow users to share interesting moments of their day in a slideshow format, which saves users from the guilt of over-posting, and the worry of achieving a certain amount of likes associated with generic Instagram posts. Instead, stories mean users are at liberty to share as much as they want, with limitless creative possibilities covering everything from GIFs to text and hashtags to drawing tools.

Stories are displayed at the top of the feed, showcasing all manner of content, from updates from users’ favourite food or fashion brands to the latest social escapades from their nearest and dearest housed in a colourful ring. They’re easy to view by simply tapping the user’s display icon and can be replayed, and users are able to react or leave a comment in a direct message.

Unfortunately, if users lose interest in your content, stories can be swiped, jumping to another user’s story – leaving your post with little to no viewing time. So, it’s essential the content you share through this feature is designed to share messages and moments to remember, and is optimised with a view to resonating with your followers.

Why should brands use them?

The creative potential that stories offer makes them a prime choice for businesses looking to increase engagement. From treating users to practical how-tos and tutorials to sharing user-generated content such as tagged customer photos, the time-sensitive format of stories makes them a powerful way to deliver on-brand information in just a few seconds.

In 2018, Instagram introduced a new feature allowing users to instantly repost another user’s story if they’re mentioned in it – an ideal tool for sharing user-generated content which won’t dominate the main feed, leaving your precious Instagram theme wholly intact. User-generated content helps brands to build an engaged online community – creating a platform for your users’ voices to be heard by your followers, strengthening the relationship between your business and your customers, and delivering significant value when it comes to increasing brand exposure.

Stories are also an effective way to promote time-sensitive or exclusive offers and special announcements your users want or need to know about. After all, Instagrammers are largely shoppers, so appealing to customers without directly selling to them in the space of a few seconds is a great way to get eyes on your brand and, ultimately, convert passive browsers into confident customers.

How to maximise potential organic reach

While this may seem obvious, your story needs to be visible to as many Instagram users as possible in order to increase organic reach. From there, it’s all about optimising your stories to catch the eyes of users and build that all-important one-on-one relationship with each member of your audience.

One of the main features of Instagram stories is that they only last 24 hours, so optimising your posts with an eye on timeliness is key to increasing your reach. While businesses are often keen to identify and capitalise on the best time of day to post, this does vary from sector to sector, and is, of course, determined by when the relevant users are most active.

With that said, experimenting with the best time to post and analysing how many people are viewing your stories at different times of the day and week provides an effective way to gauge this, and allows you to make direct contact with your follower base on their schedule. This kind of consistency is essential to achieving social media success with a view to keeping your audience engaged and generating the most impressions.

The anatomy of an engaging Instagram story

Structured stories with a beginning, middle and end deliver on the narrative front and are the key to keeping your audience interested in your current and upcoming content, increasing the likelihood of users keeping their eyes glued to your brand.

Incorporating interactive elements in your stories is another effective means of making sure your brand gets more attention on Instagram. From polls to question stickers and quizzes, the stories feature offers options galore for brands looking to introduce a call-to-action and increase engagement.

Using these techniques alongside Instagram-friendly apps such as Boomerang and Hype-Type, and in conjunction with all of the relevant hashtags, provides a winning formula for making your brand seen by all those who may be interested in your product or service – significantly increasing your potential organic reach in the long term.

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Whether you want to increase your potential organic reach or simply build and develop your brand identity with the help of Instagram, stories are considered one of the best features of this leading social media platform for increasing engagement and helping brands connect with their followers on a one-on-one basis. It’s a simple yet powerful way of getting your brand message out there, and goes beyond simple visuals – just don’t get too obsessed with finding that perfect GIF.

Get in touch with Land Digital today to speak to our team of digital experts about your brand awareness ambitions. While we can’t help you with your angles, we can certainly help you put together a powerful social media marketing strategy.